Open World Games are a great way to explore the vast world’s gaming has to offer. Breath-taking landscapes, bustling cities, barren deserts and rocky seashores are just a few of them. While every gamer is familiar with open-world games, but only a small percentage of them are familiar with their history so let’s jump in and explore the origin of open-world games.
What defines an Open World Game-
For starters open-world games should have a fairly large open world. But there’s more to it. Open world games deviate us from a level or a mission-based structure and give us more freedom. Additionally, the world is filled with stuff to do, and you are free to skip it out completely or do as you like. Nothing is forced on the player. The final requirement for an open-world game is a character controlled by the player which allows you to interact with the world. For example- We can’t call a game like civilisation an open-world game, even though it meets the previous criteria. Therefore it is necessary for you to control a particular character within the game’s world for it to be called an open-world game.
The First Open World Games-
The inspiration for open-world games mostly came from early RPGs games such as dungeon crawler games that played out in first person wireframe mode, Although they are not considered as open-world games. However, Open world games have definitely derived a lot from these games.
Ultima 1:The First Age of Darkness:
This might be the first open-world game released back in the 1980s.Although it was limited by technology it offered a large open world with nothing stopping the player to explore the world although it was mostly top-down view the dungeons were all in first person wireframe view which was a very unique experience in that era.
Elite from 1984 was the first space exploration game. This wireframe game gives you a procedurally generated universe and freedom to roam within the galaxy. You could trade ships, spaceports etc. it was definitely the programming masterpiece of its time.SO next time you enjoy playing no man’s sky or the outer worlds remember it was not possible without the Elite.
1991’s Hunter was too much ahead of its time due to its polygonal 3D.Where players controlled a soldier in three different modes-hunter mode(story driver),Vehicles mode,Action Mode(lets you destroy enemies as you want.
Legend of Zelda: In 1986 the first legend of Zelda came which later on became a game-changer for the whole JRPG market letting players explore the world and clear the dungeons in the way they want
The Elder Scrolls:Arena:
The Elder Scrolls: Arena was the first elder scrolls game which was very different from elder scrolls games most people are familiar with, it was mostly a dungeon crawler in the first-person view. There were 100s of the city to explore and all of the dungeons were randomly generated and also thousands of NPCs.
The Map of Elder Scrolls: Arena was probably the big open-world world RPG map at that time.
Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time:
Ocarina of Time was the first Zelda game that lets you explore the world of Hyrule in 3D. It was not a game, it was an experience that showed the world what an Open World game is capable of. Not to mention it is the highest-rated game of all time according to Metacritic and ign.
1999s driver was one of the first games which tried to bring city life into 3D.it allowed you to freely drive as you want to make one the first driving open-world games also this formula was further used in upcoming racing games like the need for speed.
1999s Shenmue contributed a lot to open-world games, it was the first game which used Day/Night cycle, Fully voiced NPCs, Weather and Urban Exploration seen in most urban-based open-world games. Although it revolutionised the gaming industry in many ways and was included as one the greatest videogames of all time it ended up as a commercial flop.
Grand Theft Auto 3:
It does not matter if a person is a gamer or not everybody has heard of or played a GTA(unless that person is living under a rock).GTA 3 was not only the first 3D GTA but it can be also called as the progenitor of modern open-world games every urban-based open-world game you see today has taken inspiration from it directly or indirectly. All of its elements such as driving, shooting or even killing people with your baseball bat were perfectly executed.
released back in 2011 Minecraft was a game that provided an experience none other game before it could achieve, providing limitless possibilities, letting you create anything and destroy anything. It literally allowed people to create their own world from replicas of the game of thrones cities to large portraits of people, the creations of their Redstone robots etc. Depending on the possibilities it can be called The Most Open world game of all time.
Fun fact: Minecraft is included as a compulsory subject in many schools in Sweden to boost the creativity level in children.
These were just a few games that established and revolutionized the genre of open-world games. The genre of open-world gaming just keeps on developing each year, games like metal gear solid 5:the phantom pain combined the genre of stealth, witcher 3:wild hunt still remain one of the top tier open-world games. Skyrim revolutionized the elder scrolls games by letting people explore beautiful mountains in the current state of open world games it is going to be interesting to see how the genre evolves in time with the technology changing every year, I am sure there will be a time when the NPCs of these games will be AIs which will speak independently having their own thinking making the genre more and more interesting.